Key & Compass presents:
by Arthur DiBianca

Excelsior is a Z-machine interactive fiction game written with Inform 7 and is © 2014 by Arthur DiBianca. It was an entry in IF Comp 2014 where it took 35th place.

In this generic puzzlefest that uses a minimalist command set, you play as someone who finds and explores a very tall tower in a forest. There's no story here. Just solve the puzzles and reach the roof to win.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the game.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of an interactive fiction game. Please make an honest effort to play the game before reading this walkthrough.


Map 1: Outside and First Level

SecondLevel North Sideof Tower West Sideof Tower Insidethe Tower East Sideof Tower The Tower Forest Bend inPath u d

Map 2: Second Level

ThirdLevel NorthCorridor SecondLevel CentralChamber EastCorridor SouthCorridor Insidethe Tower u d u d

Map 3: Third Level

Top ofStairs Bottom ofStaircase WestRoom ThirdLevel DustyRoom SouthRoom CentralChamber u d u d

Map 4: Fourth Level

Top ofStairs Landing Bottom ofStaircase StatueChamber Balcony d u u d

Map 5: Fifth Level

Closet Bedroom TightCorridor North Endof Hall CarpetedHall Landing StatueChamber u d u d (neverunlocks) (neverunlocks)

Map 6: Sixth Level

NorthInter-section End ofCorridor WestInter-section End ofCorridor TightCorridor End ofCorridor MinorGallery End ofCorridor North Endof Hall Ladder SouthInter-section SoutheastInter-section d u u d

Map 7: Seventh Level

SquareChamber GuardedRoom CentralRoom MinorGallery Ladder u u d d

Map 8: Eighth Level

CheckeredChamber NorthwestChamber NorthChamber NortheastChamber WestChamber SquareChamber EastChamber SouthwestChamber SouthChamber SoutheastChamber CentralRoom u d u d

Map 9: Ninth Level

FountainRotunda NorthChamber WestChamber CheckeredChamber EastChamber SouthChamber SquareChamber useplatform u d

Map 10: Tenth Level

Balcony Room withTwo Stairs FountainRotunda WestChamber u d useplatform

Map 11: Eleventh Level

SpiralStaircase Apparatus(North) Water-wheel CentralChamber Room withTwo Stairs TriangularRooms FountainRotunda d d d u u u

Map 12: Twelfth Level

Landing SpiralStaircase Apparatus(North) CentralChamber Room withTwo Stairs Apparatus(South) u u u d d d

Map 13: Thirteenth Level

NortheastQuarter Landing SpiralStaircase SquareRoom ArrowRoom LeverRoom BasinRoom u d u d

Map 14: Fourteenth Level

Top ofLadder PoolChamber Bottomof Pool NortheastQuarter Vat Room Bottom ofAnotherPool Ring ofFire Landing d u d d u d u u

Map 15: Fifteenth Level

Bottomof Pool PoolChamber Top ofLadder NortheastQuarter Bottom ofAnotherPool Vat Room PlaqueRoom PumpRoom BehindPortcullis u d u u d u d d

Map 16: Sixteenth Level and Roof

The Roof FiveLights PlaqueRoom PumpRoom u d



This game uses a limited set of commands.

> help.

> x trees. e. n.

The Tower

> x tower. x birds.

There's no visible entrance, so walk around the tower clockwise:

> w. n. e. s.

The Tower

One brick is now black. You must try to use the brick before you can walk through the wall.

> x black brick. use it. (Hand passes through it.)

> n.

Inside the Tower (First Level)

The first section of the game is about black cubes. There's a black cube on each of the first three levels of the tower, and you need to obtain all three to unlock a gate on Third Level.

> x lamps. x pedestal.

> x cube. use cube. (Taken, but grinding sound.)

> u. (Trick stairs! Put the cube back.)

> use cube on pedestal.

> u. n.

North Corridor (Second Level)

> x plaque. x message. e.

East Corridor (Second Level)

> x cube. use cube. s.

South Corridor (Second Level)

> x sphere. use sphere. w. d.

Inside the Tower (First Level)

Keep the stairs usable by replacing the cube with the sphere.

> use cube. use sphere on pedestal.

> u. n. s.

Central Chamber (Second Level)

> x ladder. u.

Third Level (Third Level)

> x door. x holes. (Three square holes are empty.)

> w.

West Room (Third Level)

> x pedestal. x shards. x broom.

> use broom. (Taken.)

> use broom on shards. (They're now gone.)

> e. e.

Dusty Room (Third Level)

> x dust.

> use broom on dust. x circle.

> w. s.

South Room (Third Level)

> use cube. (Taken, but a gate now blocks the exit.)

> use cube on pedestal. (Gate retracts.)

> use broom on gate. (You wedge it in.)

> use cube. (The broom keeps the gate from closing.)

> n.

Third Level (Third Level)

> use cube on holes.

> use cube on holes.

> use cube on holes.

With three cubes in the holes, the door opens.

> n. u. s.

Statue Chamber (Fourth Level)

Now you're looking for gold coins. There's a gold coin on each level from Fourth to Ninth, and you need four of those six coins to unlock a gate on the Ninth Level.

> x gate. x statue. x words. (can't read them)

> use statue. (You get onto the plinth.)

> use hand. (You obtain a gold coin!)

> x coin. use statue. (You get off.)

> e.

Balcony (Fourth Level)

> x trees. x mountains. x tower. x birds.

> w. u.

Landing (Fifth Level)

> x door. use door. n.

Carpeted Hall (Fifth Level)

> x carpet. n.

North End of Hall (Fifth Level)

The doors to the east and west are locked and you never find a key for them, so you may ignore them.

> use north. n.

Bedroom (Fifth Level)

> x bed. x nightstand.

> use drawer. use key. x key.

> x desk. x paper. use paper. (Taken.)

> use door. (A safe elevates from the floor.)

> use safe. (locked)

> use key on safe. (unlocked; gold coin inside)

> use coin. (Taken.)

> use door. (Safe closes and descends.)

> w.

Closet (Fifth Level)

> x panel. use panel. (Lever revealed.)

> x lever. (in up position)

If you use the lever and wait many times, you'll learn that the lever stays down for 13 turns, then flips back up again. That suggests you'll need to use the lever and go somewhere 11 or 12 steps distant from here and do something critical there before the lever flips up.

However, you haven't seen the place that this lever is for yet, so come back to this later.

> e. s. u. n.

North Intersection (Sixth Level)

On this level, black arrows lead towards the way up to the next level, red arrows lead back to the level below, and white arrows lead to ends of corridors where there may be something interesting (or not).

So, alternate between white and black arrows to see everything on this level.

> e.

End of Corridor (east from North Intersection; Sixth Level)

> use gold coin. w. w. e.

End of Corridor (east from West Intersection; Sixth Level)

Nothing here.

> w. s. w.

End of Corridor (west from South Interection; Sixth Level)

> use red coin. s. e. n.

End of Corridor (north from Southeast Intersection; Sixth Level)

Nothing here.

> w. e.

Ladder (Sixth Level)

> u.

Minor Gallery (Seventh Level)

I assume the paintings are a tribute to Myst, maybe?

> x paintings. w. w.

Guarded Room (Seventh Level)

As you enter, an alarm bell rings and the box lid shuts. The alarm won't stop until you leave.

> x table. x box. x alarm.

This is what the closet's lever is for, to turn this alarm system off. Head back to the closet:

> e. e. d. s. w. n. n. s. d. n. w.

Closet (Fifth Level)

It should go without saying that the bedroom door should be left open before using this lever. You don't want to waste a turn opening a door.

> use lever.

Now race to the Guarded Room:

> e. s. u. n. w. s. e. e. u. w. w.

Guarded Room (Seventh Level)

You have two turns to look in the box and take what's there before the box closes.

> x box. use gold coin. (Taken.)

> e. u.

Square Chamber (Eighth Level)

> x north gate. (see bare chamber)

> x east gate. (see bare chamber)

> x west gate. (see bare chamber)

> x south gate. (see table)

> use south. (won't open)

> use east. e.

East Chamber (Eighth Level)

This room is critical to solving this level's puzzle. The circle is mean to represent opening the north gate, and the X is meant to represent closing the west gate.

> x west. (black X above gate)

> x north. (black circle above gate)

> use north. (It opens; west closes.)

> use west. (It opens; north closes.)

> use west. (It closes; north opens!)

The gates are now in a different state where closing the open gate opens another gate. Now it's just a matter of entering open gates and closing them behind you.

> n.

Northeast Chamber (Eighth Level)

> use south. w.

North Chamber (Eighth Level)

> use east. w.

Northwest Chamber (Eighth Level)

> use east. s.

West Chamber (Eighth Level)

> use north. s.

Southwest Chamber (Eighth Level)

> use north. e.

South Chamber (Eighth Level)

> x table. use coin. (Taken.)

> use west. n. u.

Checkered Chamber (Ninth Level)

> x door. (Has four circle design and a slot.)

> s.

South Chamber (Ninth Level)

This level is basically a game of rearranging coins of different weights until you can obtain yet another gold coin. The first step is to replace the white coin with the red coin.

> use white coin. (Taken, but a gate blocks your exit.)

> use red coin on hand. (The gate slides open.)

> n. n.

North Chamber (Ninth Level)

Now replace the black coin with the white coin.

> use black coin. (Taken, but a gate blocks your exit.)

> use white coin on hand. (The gate slides open.)

> s. e.

East Chamber (Ninth Level)

Now replace the gold coin with the black coin.

> use gold coin. (Taken, but a gate blocks your exit.)

> use black coin on hand. (The gate slides open.)

> w.

Checkered Chamber (Ninth Level)

Insert four gold coins. By the way, the red, white, and black coins are too wide for the slot.

> use gold on slot. use gold on slot.

> use gold on slot. use gold on slot.

The slot is replaced with a keyhole.

> use key on keyhole. (Unlocked.)

> use door. w.

West Chamber (Ninth Level)

CAUTION: The platform is a one-way trip up. If you didn't find all six gold coins, this is your last chance to go back and find them.

> use platform. (You're lifted up to...)

Fountain Rotunda (Tenth Level)

From here on up, the theme is water and levers. There's a lever on each level from Tenth to Sixteenth, and you need to use five of those seven levers to unlock a gate on the Sixteenth Level.

> x platform. use platform. (You can't find it again.)

> x fountain. n.

Balcony (Tenth Level)

> x forest. x hills. x city. x tower. x birds.

> s. u.

Room with Two Stairs (Eleventh Level)

> x grating. use grating. (can't move or open it)

> w. w.

Waterwheel (Eleventh Level)

> x wheel. (Some object is wedged in there.)

> use object. (Not when water is running!)

> x frame. (Wall in frame is recessed.)

> e. e. u.

Apparatus (North) (Twelfth Level)

> x apparatus. x pillar.

> x pedestal. (has lever)

> use lever. (The water action prevents you.)

> s.

Apparatus (South) (Twelfth Level)

> x lion. (It has two heads. The west head is pouring water a basin, giving power to the apparatus. The inactive east head has no similar basin.)

> n. d. w. u.

Spiral Staircase (Twelfth Level)

You're now inside the pillar you saw in Apparatus (North).

> u. s.

Square Room (Thirteenth Level)

> x gate. x frame.

> n. u.

Northeast Quarter (Fourteenth Level)

> x basins. s.

Ring of Fire (Fourteenth Level)

> x flame. x groove.

> x structure. (The fire hides it.)

> n. u. w.

Pool Chamber (Fifteenth Level)

> x pool. x pipe. e. s.

Plaque Room (Fifteenth Level)

> x plaque. (can't read it)

> u.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> x machine. x cylinder. x hole.

> use cylinder. (might turn with leverage)

> n.

Five Lights (Sixteenth Level)

> x door. (All lights are dark.)

> x rod. use rod. (Taken.)

> s.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> use rod on hole.

> use rod. (The water now flows out the eastern spout.)

You can now use the rod to change the water flow from the west side of the tower to the east side, and vice-versa. You can never get the rod back to use somewhere else.

Leave the water flowing east to see how the rooms below have all changed.

> x machine. (You now see a lever underneath the western spout. It must have been hidden by the water.)

> use lever. n.

Five Lights (Sixteenth Level)

One light is lit. Obviously, you need to push at least five levers to unlock this door.

But if you're trying for a perfect game, you want to push all seven levers. There's a lever on every level from Tenth to Sixteenth.

> s. d. n. w.

Pool Chamber (Fifteenth Level)

The pool is now a square hole.

> x hole. x rungs. d. s. u.

Vat Room (Fifteenth Level)

> x portcullis. x vat. (Note the drain.)

> x drain. x spout.

Obviously, west-flowing water fills the vat and opens the portcullis, but you can't get here unless the water flow is east!

> d. n. u. e. d.

Northeast Quarter (Fourteenth Level)

The basins have running water now.

> x basins. s.

Ring of Fire (Fourteenth Level)

With water flowing in the groove, the fire is gone and you now see a pedestal.

> x pedestal. x lever. use lever. (Too hot to touch!)

> n. d. s.

Square Room (Thirteenth Level)

Wait here at least four turns to observe the frame and gate behavior while the water flow is east.

> z. z. z. z.

The squares in the frame are cycling RED WHITE BLACK GRAY, and the gate tries to open when the square is black, but it's never open far enough for you to get past it.

This means you must switch the flow to west when the square is black. Awkward! Leave this puzzle for last; it's rather sadistic.

> n. d. d. w.

Waterwheel (Eleventh Level)

> use object. (You take a statue?)

> x statue. (It's a gnome with a hook on its head, a knob in its base, and a leg that wants to kick.)

> use knob. (The kicking leg goes back.)

> z. z. z. z. z. z. z. z. z. (After 9 turns waiting, the gnome kicks forward violently.)

> e. e.

Room with Two Stairs (Eleventh Level)

Water is flooding the upper stairway into the drain. You can't get to the Apparatus rooms while the water flow is east.

> d.

Fountain Rotunda (Tenth Level)

The fountain is having trouble staying full. Examine the basin over and over again. When it's empty, you see a metal lever.

> x basin. (Repeat until you see the lever.)

> use lever.

Head back to Five Lights:

> u. w. u. u. u. u. s. u. n.

Five Lights (Sixteenth Level)

Now two lights are lit.

> s.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> use rod. (Water now flows west again.)

Return to the waterwheel:

> d. n. d. d. d. d. w.

Waterwheel (Eleventh Level)

Now that the waterwheel is turning, action is happening in the southern doorway. There's actually a large rotating turntable in there, divided into three triangular rooms and a walled-off triangular area.

Timing is important if you're trying to get into a particular triangular room.

> z. (Repeat waiting until a wall blocks the frame.)

> z. (Now there's an opening.)

> s.

(First) Triangular Room (Eleventh Level)

> z. (A niche comes into view.)

> x niche. (There's a lever.)

> z. z. z. (Niche is back.)

> use lever. (cant: Rotation makes it too difficult.)

> z. (Opening north.)

Quickly go north, then south into the second triangular room:

> n. s.

(Second) Triangular Room (Eleventh Level)

> use leather. x it. z.

Quickly go north, then south into the third triangular room:

> n. s.

(Third) Triangular Room (Eleventh Level)

Note that while you can just take the chain yourself to stop the rotation, you can't reach the lever at the same time. That's why you need the gnome here.

> x chain. (Niche now visible.)

> use gnome on chain. (The room stops.)

> use lever.

> use gnome. (You take it and the room starts moving again.)

> z. n.

Waterwheel (Eleventh Level)

> e. u. u. u. u. s. u. n.

Five Lights (Sixteenth Level)

Three lights lit.

> s.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> use rod. (eastern flow again)

Head for the Ring of Fire:

> d. n. d. s.

Ring of Fire (Fourteenth Level)

> use leather on lever. (You pull it.)

Head for the Vat Room:

> n. u. w. d. s. u.

Vat Room (Fifteenth Level)

> use leather on drain. (covered)

> d. n. u. e. s. u. n.

Five Lights (Sixteenth Level)

Four lights lit.

> s.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> use rod. (western flow)

> z. z. z. z. (The vat should be full now.)

> use rod. (eastern flow)

Return to the Vat Room quickly, pausing only at the Pool Chamber so it has time to drain:

> d. n. w. z. d. s. u.

Vat Room (Fifteenth Level)

A gap is revealed if and only if some water is trying to use the drain but can't, so it's using the gap instead.

> x gap. use door. use leather. s.

Behind Portcullis (Fifteenth Level)

> use lever.

> n. d. n. u. e. s. u. n.

Five Lights (Sixteenth Level)

Five lights are lit. If you don't care about a perfect score, feel free to open the door and go to the roof now to end the game.

But for a perfect score, you must pull all seven levers.

> s.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> use rod. (western flow)

Head for Apparatus (North):

> d. n. d. d. d. d. e. u.

Apparatus (North) (Twelfth Level)

You must use the gnome to kick the lever while the water is flowing east and not powering the apparatus.

> use gnome on pedestal. (It's placed.)

> use knob.

Race to the Pump Room!

> d. w. u. u. u. u. s. u.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> use rod. (eastern flow)

There's no more lights to light, so either trust that the gnome did its job or return to Apparatus (North) and try to use the lever yourself to prove that it's been pushed.

Go to Square Room (Thirteenth Level):

> d. n. d. d. s.

Square Room (Thirteenth Level)

The first step in this puzzle is to change the water flow to west when the square in the frame here is black, so this gate stays open when you return here.

It takes five moves to go to the Pump Room from here and a sixth move to use the rod, except the cutoff is instant, so don't count that move. Remembering that the cycle here is red-white-black-gray, and counting five backwards from black... uh, you should wait until the square here is WHITE then race to the Pump Room and use the rod.

> z. (Wait repeatedly until the white square appears.)

> n. u. u. s. u.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

> use rod. d. n. d. d. s.

Square Room (Thirteenth Level)

I'll assume all went well and the area in the frame is black and the gate is open.

> x frame. e.

Arrow Room (Thirteenth Level)

> save.

> x arrow. use arrow. (doesn't move)

The arrow will be pointing at one of three circles (red, white, or black) or at an empty gray spot on the wall.

If you're very lucky, the arrow is pointing at the black circle, and you can continue south, but I think the game is gimmicked so it's pointing at the red circle the first time you're in here.

The water flow controls this arrow too, but instead of changing every turn like the frame in the Square Room, it's changing every four turns. So you need to release westerly-water in multiples of four turns exactly to advance the arrow to the next circle while keeping the gate in the Square Room open too.

> w. n. u. u. s. u.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

I'll assume that the arrow was pointing to the red circle.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

The arrow should now be at white, and the square should be back at black. Feel free to go and check and come back here.

Do the four-turn burst of water again, as necessary, until square and arrow are both indicating black:

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> d. n. d. d. s. e.

Arrow Room (Thirteenth Level)

> x arrow. (It should be pointing at black now.)

> s.

Basin Room (Thirteenth Level)

> save. x basins. x bars.

You probably want to re-examine the basins and wait for several turns to get an understanding of what's happening here. Over the course of 7 turns, the west basin fills up and empties itself. While the basin is filled up to the black line, the horizontal bars in the western doorway retract.

The basin cycle can be summarized as EMPTY-RED-RED-WHITE-WHITE-BLACK-BLACK.

Likewise, you can assume that when the water flow is east, the east basin fills, and when its water is past its black line, the vertical bars in the western doorway retract. (I assume the east basin will always be empty the first time you're in this room.)

But remember, the first two gates are only open simultaneously every 16 turns of eastern water flow.

Which means, if the east basin is initially empty, that you want to let eastern water flow for 16 turns to get it to the red line, for 16 turns more to get it to the white line, and for 16 additional turns to get it to the black line. And if you mistime any of this, you'll probably have to start this puzzle at the beginning.

Shame you can't just scoop some of the water over with your hands, eh?

Sigh. Let's do this, and I suggest saving the game whenever you're sure you've made progress.

> n. w. n. u. u. s. u.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

I strongly recommend doing this in water bursts of four turns each. Personally, I think it's easier to count to four four times instead of up to sixteen, since I always mess it up when trying to wait longer.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> d. n. d. d. s. e. s.

Basin Room (Thirteenth Level)

> x basins. (Verify that the east basin is at the red line.)

> save.

> n. w. n. u. u. s. u.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

Another four cycles of four:

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> d. n. d. d. s. e. s.

Basin Room (Thirteenth Level)

> x basins. (Verify that the east basin is at the white line.)

> save.

> n. w. n. u. u. s. u.

Pump Room (Sixteenth Level)

Another four cycles of four:

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> use rod. z. z. z. use rod.

> d. n. d. d. s. e. s.

Basin Room (Thirteenth Level)

> x basins. (Verify that the east basin is at the black line.)

> save.

Now just wait for the west basin to get to its black line.

> z. (Repeast waiting until the horizontal bars retract.)

> w.

Lever Room (Thirteenth Level)

> use lever. (The horizontal bars shut.)

> z. z. z. z. z. (The horizontal bars open.)

> e. n. w. n. u. u. s. u. n.

Five Lights (Sixteenth Level)

> use door. (Upward stairs revealed.)

> noru.

The Roof

A gentleman in a hard hat rates your performance and shakes your hand.

*** You made it to the top! ***

Not to sound ungrateful, but I think I deserve a bit more than that. Maybe an entire sandwich, a way out of the tower, and a ride to the next town, maybe?




When the game starts, the text reads:

A Puzzle Adventure by Arthur DiBianca
Release 1 (140924)

(Special thanks to Lorne Harris for testing.)


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